Link rot

One of the enduring problems of running a website or blog is the curse of link rot. Whenever I write articles I always try to find (non-wikipedia if possible) sources to back up my arguments. However, as these sources are obviously outside of my control, they may disappear as time passes.

One method I use to try to mitigate the effects of link rot is the WordPress broken link checker plugin. However, I’ve been a bit lax over the last few months acting on its advice and so I appear to have 16 broken links to fix or remove as of this morning.

The majority of these are Open University related. For example, the OU appear to have recently moved the location of their senate minutes and try as I might, the general uselessness of their search engine means that I still can’t find them. A couple of articles on Platform have also gone missing. One website – philipkdick.com – appears to no longer be around and a video of Brian Clough being interviewed about his tenure at Leeds United from the itv.com website has also been pulled.

However, the two most interesting removals are government and politics related. Disgraced banker James Crosby’s 2008 report into identity management and assurance appears to have very recently gone missing in action from gov.uk, as does the current Minister for Universities and Science David Willett’s passionate 2008 statement from his personal website arguing that funding for second chance students (ELQ) must not be cut. In fact everything that he’d written from before mid-2012 has been thrown into the memory hole – as well as the site no longer having a search function. It’s almost like he’s embarrassed about his past – surely not?

This is what the article looks like today:

David Willetts - Not FoundBut thanks to the magic of the Wayback machine, we can at least still see something of what he wrote in opposition:

David Willetts March 2008Well David, you’re in government now and in a role that has the power to do something about this – even if it’s only the offer of loans to ELQ students who have all but been priced out of the HE market these days.

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